5 Hernia Types Pets Can Experience That May Occur In Your Pet

Are you concerned that your pet might have a hernia? These hernias can be serious if you don’t take your pet to the vet to get them treated. Read our guide to learn about the five different hernia types in pets.

5 Hernia Types Pets Can Experience That May Occur in Your Pet

Hernias are a troubling nuisance to humans, but they can be downright terrifying when they happen to your pet. They can be hard to distinguish and the symptoms are often subtle at first.

Ahead, we’ll take a closer look at the five different hernia types that your pet might be experiencing, as well as the treatment and prevention options you have.

What is a Hernia?

Before we discuss the hernia types, symptoms, treatments, and other considerations for your pet, it’s helpful first to know what a hernia is.

A hernia happens when an organ or fatty tissue breaks its way through the muscle and bulges through. Hernias are relatively common in both humans and pets alike, but almost always require treatment inorder for them to go away. The tear through which the organ or tissue pokes through will not go away on its own, so your pet will often have to undergo surgery if the condition is serious.

Some hernia types are more common than others, but we’ll cover all of the different types of hernias your pet might experience in the section below.

Different Hernia Types in Pets

There are five different types of hernias your pet might experience, and most of them are the same types humans can have.


While inguinal – or groin – hernias might be the most common hernia types in humans, umbilical hernias will be more common in cats and dogs. This type of a hernia develops at birth, and you’ll see it pronounced around the belly button region of your puppy or kitten.

Shortly after birth, the umbilical region of the puppy or kitten is vulnerable. It’s possible for some organs like the intestines to protrude through the area and lead to a hernia. You can see this when the belly button seems to be missing in place of a small – and sometimes relatively large – soft, bump.

Unlike most of the other hernia types, an umbilical hernia can sometimes go away on its own. If not, you will need to take your pet in for surgery to repair the issue. This will often happen at the same time as you spay or neuter them so that they won’t be feeling any undue pain.

Failing to treat a hernia that doesn’t fix itself can lead to complication – especially if an umbilical hernia is large. You won’t have to worry about this if you have an older dog or cat, though. Umbilical hernias are relatively common but only appear shortly after birth. Rescue pet owners don’t need to look out for this one like some of the others.


An Inguinal hernia occurs in the inner groin and is one of the most common types of hernias that affect both pets and humans. This hernia develops when the bladder, intestine, or other localized organ breaks through the abdominal wall and protrudes through the groin area.

In humans, this is mostly caused by weak muscles in the area. In dogs and cats, they’re more common when the pet is middle-aged and pregnant. Since this is the case, immediate surgery is usually necessary to take care of the hernia before it worsens.

This hernia type is more serious than an umbilical hernia we discussed above and can become problematic if you don’t take immediate action. It won’t go away on its own, which means surgery will be required to make sure your pet is okay – especially if they’re carrying a litter.


The diaphragm is the area of the midsection that separates the abdominal organs from the organs in the chest like the heart and the lungs. This is the case with all mammals – cats and dogs not excluded.

When a diaphragmatic hernia takes place the organs in your pet’s abdomen start to protrude into the chest. Such interference can make it difficult to breathe and cause some serious complications.

Most of the time, such hernias will only take place after your dog or cat suffers trauma like getting struck by a car.

Since severe trauma is almost always the precursor to this hernia type, the possibility will probably already be on your vet’s radar. They should be looking for it and will give you some signs toreport if your dog starts breathing irregularly.

This is another hernia that will require surgery and can become life-threatening if you don’t take immediate action.


A perineal hernia is much more common in unneutered male cats and dogs than it is with female dogs or neutered male dogs. Dogs over the age of five years are more likely to develop this hernia as well, although some are genetically predisposed and are at a greater risk than others.

Perineal hernias occur when the abdominal organs of a dog or cat protrude through a tear in the pelvis. The hallmark hernia bulge will present itself near the pet’s anus.

Again, this hernia needs surgery to repair. It’s not as immediately threatening like some of the other hernia types we’ve covered, but will still require attention to avoid any future problems that might arise.


Hiatal is the final hernia type that your pet might experience. These are very similar to diaphragmatic hernias, though they occur in a slightly different position.

A hiatal hernia will develop when the stomach protrudes through the diaphragm near the esophagus. Again, this hernia will require immediate attention to help ensure the problem doesn’t become severe.

Like diaphragmatic hernias, hiatal hernias are more common in dogs and cats who have suffered trauma like being hit by a car. This is a blessing and a curse since your vet will already be aware of the dangers of a hernia developing. They will be looking for it, but you should be too as a pet owner.

Signs Your Pet Might Have a Hernia

Some hernias have more telltale signs than others do. The hernia types that are largely internal might not express as many visible symptoms as those with a bump in a strange place.

Unfortunately, we can’t talk to our pets and see how they’re feeling. For that reason, it’s much easier to distinguish and diagnose a hernia in a human as opposed to an animal.

Most of the time, though, a hernia will create a bubble or bump in the stomach, groin, or anal region of your pet. The bigger the bump gets, the more serious and life-threatening the hernia is becoming.

Here are a few symptoms that might signify your pet is experiencing a hernia:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Difficulty defecating or urinating
  • Labored breathing
  • Whimpering or other signs of pain
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • A bubble-like growth

Make sure to take a trip to the vet if your dog or cat are experiencing any of these symptoms. Your vet will be able to perform tests, diagnose the problem, and take the proper treatment steps.

Treating a Hernia

Hernias always involve a tear of a muscle wall, which will not repair on its own. Your pet will need to undergo surgery to correct the problem and repair the tear. The severity of the tear will dictate how difficult the surgery will be as well as the recovery process.

The general health of your pet will also determine how dangerous and difficult surgery might be. There are a lot of variables to consider, here, and age is certainly a big one. Some hernias might not cause any visible problems at first but could get worse over time.

The type of hernia your pet has will play a factor as well, with hernias involving the abdomen some of the more difficult to repair. Unfortunately, these are also some of the more dangerous hernias and ones that you’ll undoubtedly want to fix as soon as possible.

The price of surgery will vary greatly depending on the hernia type, your location, the health of the dog, and how long they have to hold them afterward. On the whole, though, you should expect to pay over $1,000 for your pet to have hernia surgery. Some of the more complicated and dangerous hernia procedures can cost upwards of $2,000.

Preventing Hernias

It’s much easier to give people hernia prevention advice for themselves than it is to give the same advice to apply to their pets. It’s difficult to tell when a hernia might occur, and some can seemingly spring up out of nowhere.

Cats don’t seem to have as much of a risk of developing a hernia as dogs do, and certain dog breeds like English Bulldogs are naturally predisposed to certain hernia types.

Hernias can be scary if you’re a pet owner and can cause a lot of stress for both you and your animal. Keep in mind, though, that surgery is often uncomplicated and can fix the problem within a few days.

A hernia isn’t the end of your pet’s life. Be proactive and caring, and you and your pet will be able to get through it and keep living happily and healthily together.

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